Sensei Barbara Shoshin Craig RSM6
Our founding teacher Barbara Craig (1932-2022)

Barbara Craig, a Sister of Mercy, began her study of Zen in the early 1990s under the direction of Roshi Janet Jinne Richardson, CSJP. In 1997, as an apprenticing teacher, Barbara and Stephanie Olek, RSM, started a Zen group in Wilkes-Barre PA. Soon after the group became known as the Flowing River Sangha. In June 2002 Barbara was installed as a Zen teacher with the Dharma name of Shoshin (beginner’s mind). Barbara’s life as a Sister of Mercy for over 50 years included teaching, prison ministry, ministry among migrant farm workers and involvement in various social justice programs.

Sensei Judy Weintraub

Judy began meditation practice in 2001, sitting with the Flowing River Sangha in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  Judy became a Dharma holder in 2009 and continued to study with Sensei Barbara Shoshin Craig, receiving transmission in 2017. Her dharma name is Dong Jen (“insightful”).

Judy received an AA degree, trained as a RN, as well as a BS degree from Wilkes University. Prior to retirement Judy was Administrator of the College of Health Sciences at Misericordia University. She shares her practice with five black cats and countless beings in the NJ Pine Barrens.

Sensei Polly Ann James

Polly has been meditating since 1987.She was led to FRS in 2009 and began her study of Zen meditation under the direction of Sensei Barbara Craig RSM. Polly received Dharma transmission in 2018 receiving the Dharma name Zhi Sin (heart of compassion).She is a member of the White Plum Asanga and Zen Peacemakers. .Polly graduated from Wilkes-Barre General Hospital School of Nursing and pursued her nursing career for 41 years. Since her retirement from nursing, she has become a Reiki Master and has a small private practice. .Polly has been a Mercy Associate for about 12 years. She has 2 children and 7 grandchildren

Dharma Holder Kathy Coslett

Kathy Coslett began her spiritual journey with Flowing River Sangha in 2010 at the advice of its founding teacher, Barbara Shoshin Craig, Sensei.

After years of “just sitting,” her journey has taken her from practitioner of zazen to Dharma Holder.  Flowing River Sangha Spiritual Director, Judy Dong Jen Weintraub, Sensei guides Kathy’s teacher training.  Kathy’s work outside of the Sangha includes community volunteer, public relations specialist and broadcast journalist.

Sensei Gessho Courtney Burgess Michak

In her twenties, Courtney began meditation through yoga practice and is a trained yoga teacher. In 2019, Courtney began her teaching apprenticeship with Sensei Zhi Sin Pollyann James, a Dharma Successor of Sr. Barbara Craig at Flowing River Sangha (FRS). Courtney is also a student of Sensei Edward Sangetsu Sullivan, a Soto Zen Priest at Red Rose Sangha. Sangetsu Sullivan and Courtney engage in text studies and Koan training which assist in opening the mind and heart. Sensei Judy Dong Jen Weintraub, Spiritual Director of FRS, also offers continuing teacher training education through text studies to FRS teachers to encourage and promote quality instruction.

In 2022, Courtney was installed as a teacher at FRS in the White Plum Asanga Lineage receiving the name Gessho, meaning moonlight. This name was given to her to represent being a light in the darkness. Courtney specializes in grief and trauma working as a licensed professional counselor. This same year, Courtney also graduated from a 2-year Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification Program with Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach. Courtney has offered mindfulness and Zen meditation classes in the community, YMCA, Gather and at Clearbrook, a drug and alcohol facility.

In her free time, Courtney enjoys time with loved ones, road biking and being in nature. Courtney gives back to the community with donations based and free teaching. She has given Dharma Talks at Morning Star Zendo, Red Rose Sangha and meditation retreats. In addition, she has organized charity events that assist children at the YMCA to honor her deceased husband, Gary Michak.

Words from Sensei Courtney Gessho:

I saw a great quote by Thich Nhat Hanh that highlights why I am so committed to Zen Mediation practice and helping others: “Peace in oneself, Peace in the world.” As a spiritual being with lots of human experiences, every day I fall on this path, and I get up. I share these lessons with the hope they help others in some small way.

 I hope you try meditation because it’s always good to try something new. As a Zen master said, “take what you like and spit out the rest.”  Our founder, Sr Barbara would say “Just sit” and it is great wisdom because it does no harm to just sit! So, in the meantime be kind to yourself and others and hope to see you soon!

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